Once upon a time (1991), in a land far far away (New Jersey), I spent an entire school year translating half the epic Latin poem The Aeneid, by Virgil. We only did books 1 through 6, but not 7 through 12 – that’s how epic it is. When I think back on what I consider to have been a major accomplishment of my life, I regret that I would not be able to undertake the same mission now. Aeneas himself gives me courage; just as he left the comfortable bosom of Dido in Carthage to continue his journey, I too can embark on a new adventure (probably not as a Latin translator, though).
Here are the opening lines from Book 1, translated by Robert Fitzgerald, copyright 1981
I sing of warfare and a man at war. From the sea-coast of Troy in early days He came to Italy by destiny, To our Lavinian western shore, A fugitive, this captain, buffeted Cruelly on land as on the sea By blows from powers of the air -behind them Baleful Juno in her sleepless rage. And cruel losses were his lot in war, Till he could found a city and bring hom His gods to Latium, land of the Latin race, The Alban lords, and the high walls of Rome. Tell me the causes now, O Muse, how galled In her divine pride, and how sore at heart From her old wound, the queen of gods compelled him - A man apart, devoted to his mission - To undergo so many perilous days And enter on so many trials. Can anger Black as this prey on the minds of heaven?